Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 13, 1997
"
Diapers aren’t so bad"

Dear John:

You sure are an active, curious little guy.

Saw you on a film that Mommy sent up on the Progress resupply spaceship, and in the span of one minute, you beeped the horn on your toy car, pushed it round the corner, ate some tangerine segments, chased after Mommy, leafed through Where Is Spot, opening all the doors inside the book; and then grabbed the microphone off of the camera. You’d make a great astronaut someday, should you decide that is what you'd like to do.

I’ve been busy, too. We’ve been having a few system difficulties on- board lately, and now that we have some new repair parts and tools aboard, we are attempting to get things up and running again. It reminds me of the beginning of a home improvement project after a Home Depot shopping spree--gear all over the place, things looking very disorderly. But hopefully we will be able to plug the leaks (cooling lines), install the new parts (oxygen generators), and reactivate other systems.

Yes, oxygen is important. Scrubbing the air of carbon dioxide, vital. Supplying cooling to the equipment--necessary. But problems with the toilet, to the crew when feeling “lin-extremis,” jump right to the top of the list. We have been able to make it functional again by using it in the “manual mode,” but this means that the separator section (that converts the urine to water) and the urine “conserving” section (that adds chemicals to the urine to prevent microbial growth) aren’t working.

Our backup system, like the prime system during the early space flights, are small condom-fitted leakproof sacks, commonly known as Apollo bags in the US program. Like I said, our priority is to fix the toilet. Now you might agree that diapers aren’t so bad, right?

Enjoy your carefree living, John. Daddy will be home soon and we’ll do some relaxing together (meaning, for me: chasing you around the room, throwing you balls, taking things out of your mouth, reading to you, and trying to coax you into a nap so that I can recover!).

Love you and miss you. Give Mommy at least a dozen kisses for me please.

Tell her that I saw a television interview that she did, and she did a great job. I’m proud of her.

Dad.

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